Postgraduate Course: Global Environment and Society (PGSP11359)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The idea of separation of modern human kind from nature has become a trope of our times, and has come to be seen as a component of 'modernity' ¿ in turn giving rise to protests and quests for 're'-unification with nature.
In this course we start from a different premise: that the relations between humans and nature are socially mediated, in other words that they cannot be conceived outside of social relations. We look at these relations through 3 main prisms: appropriation, rationalisation (the production of sameness), and livelihoods and communities ¿ and in three domains: mining, agriculture and food, and forest 'management'.
The course examines relations between society and the 'environment' in terms of:
- Appropriation of/extraction from 'nature': here we investigate phenomena of 'primitive accumulation' and enclosure (as well as colonialism, neo-colonialism and processes of dispossession) ¿ especially in the context of the mining industry and its recent developments.
- Rationalisation of 'nature': the application of science and technique to industry (particularly from the 19th century onward) aims at making things calculable, mechanisable ¿ but also today traceable. Rational technologies, from fertilizers to technologies of audit, have looked to producing calculable 'sameness' ¿ thus inducing profound transformations both of natural processes and social relations; we look at this through the prism of industrial agriculture, GMOs, and seeds.
- Livelihoods and communities: the notion of community is interesting for its association with local economies involving specific modes of relation to the environment which differ from the dominant appropriation/rationalisation (although the notion of community is of course also mobilised by neoliberal programmes). We review key conceptions of the community and their implications for society/nature-environment relations especially through the prism of the forest, as communities have been more and more expected/tasked to 'manage' forests.
The final class addresses the politics of 'socio-environmental futures' ¿ and what that entails.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||4,000 word essay (75% of overall mark) plus a seminar mark (25%) comprised of student presentations, individual reports, and small group work. Students will be provided with specific guidance on seminar assessment in the first meeting.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate extensive, critical and detailed knowledge of fundamental concepts in social science, as they apply to current environmental debates
- Engage critically with key social theorists through the lens of environmental issues
- Define, argue and review their own stance with regard to environment/society relations
- Demonstrate an ability to present - in written and verbal form - coherent, well argued and theoretically informed analyses of contemporary global environmental issues
- Demonstrate substantial autonomy and initiative in the preparation and organisation of research and coursework
|Balibar, E. (1995). The philosophy of Marx. Verso.|
Bell, C., & Newby, H. (1976) 'Community, communion, class and community action: the social sources of the new urban politics'. Social areas in cities, 2, 189-207.
Godelier, M. (1986). The mental and the material: thought economy and society. London: Verso.
Guthman, J. (2004). Agrarian dreams: The paradox of organic farming in California Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hall, R. (2012). Diamond Mining in Canada's Northwest Territories: A Colonial Continuity. Antipode 45(2): 376-393.
Kloppenburg, J. R. Jr. (1988), First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
McCarthy, J. (2005) 'Devolution in the woods: community forestry as hybrid neoliberalism.' Environment and Planning A, 37(6): 995-1014.
Polanyi, K. (2001). The Great Transformation: The Political And Economic Origins Of Our Time Beacon Press.
Prudham, S. (2013). Men and things: Karl Polanyi, primitive accumulation, and their relevance to a radical green political economy. Environment and Planning A, 45, 1569-1587.
Swyngedouw, E. (2010) 'Apocalypse Forever? Post-political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change.' Theory, Culture & Society, 27(2-3): 213-232
Tsing, A. L. (2011). Friction: An ethnography of global connection. Princeton University Press.
Weber, Max (1927) General Economic History. Translated from the German by Frank H. Knight. London: George Allen & Unwin. Chapter 27.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Isabelle Darmon
Tel: (0131 6)51 1574
|Course secretary||Mrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:39 am